Dandruff Deconstructed is reader-supported. All reviews are independent and any products reviewed are purchased by the site owner. To help fund this model, some of the links on the site are affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from one of these links, this site will receive some commission. At no cost to you. It helps keeps this place running. Learn more
PsoriaTrax Anti-Dandruff Tar Shampoo
Psoriatrax Coal Tar Psoriasis Relief shampoo a 5% coal tar solution – the highest concentration deemed safe by the FDA. Unfortunately, the wash, scent and formulation fall well short of the desired standard. It leaves the hair feeling dry, smelling of tar and 5 of the 12 ingredients are known contact allergens. For those with sensitive skin, or if you’re allergic to any of these ingredients, you will want to look elsewhere for a gentler shampoo. In fact, unless you really need a 5% coal tar formulation – I would look elsewhere.
PsoriaTrax is a haircare company specializing in the treatment of psoriasis and other scalp conditions. The company have a systematic approach to treating psoriasis; they recommend using their 5% shampoo for regular shampooing until symptoms recede, and a 3% solution for maintenance of your symptoms. PsoriaTrax believes that sufferers of psoriasis don’t have to deal with the embarrassing and unpleasant symptoms of the disease, and that “until there is a cure, there is PsoriaTrax.”
The Shampoo: How it Looks, Feels, Smells, & Washes
- How it Looks: The shampoo arrived in a package by itself, without a special box containing the shampoo. The shampoo bottle is simple in design -, which seem to be the trademark of PsoriaTrax if you look at their website. obviously the work of a smaller company, but we love often love smaller companies!
- How it Feels: The shampoo is a medium-brown solution with a slight golden sheen. It feels thick and viscous in my hand, and it seems a little will go a long way on the scalp, especially with the concentrated formula.
- How it Smells: The shampoo does have a strong smell of tar, like the type you smell on a freshly paved road. It is fairly strong and may be offensive to sensitive noses. This isn’t a heavily fragranced shampoo with memories of summer meadows. This is a tar shampoo, and it absolutely smells like it.
- How it Washes: This is definitely a medicated shampoo. A very medicated shampoo. Don’t expect salon performance here. It made my hair feel dry – I definitely recommend using a conditioner after – if you don’t want your hair to feel like straw and smell like a road anyhow.
The Psoriasis Relief shampoo from PsoriaTrax contains 25% coal tar solution USP which equals to 5% pure coal tar. This concentration is the highest amount of coal tar that the FDA describes as safe and effective. It’s also the most coal tar we’ve seen on the market right now.
That said, at least one clinical study found that 1% coal tar is more effective than 5% concentrations at clearing scalp psoriasis. More isn’t necessarily better in the mysterious world of coal tar.
The shampoo has certainly built a loyal following, with hundreds of users claiming it has clear their psoriasis, significantly reducing itching and flakes on the scalp and body.
However, the shampoo isn’t exactly gentle.
In addition to the coal tar, the shampoo contains a number of known contact allergens. As well as Fragrance and sulfates, the shampoo contains a formaldehyde releaser in DMDM Hydantoin, Triethanolamine, and Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
Of the 12 total non-active ingredients, only 7 are not potential contact allergens. And one of them is salt!
If you have a sensitive scalp, don’t use this shampoo.
If you are allergic to any of these ingredients, don’t use this shampoo.
If you are concerned about using a shampoo with sulfates, I would also recommend steering clear and choosing a less harsh alternative. That said, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES) are considered gentler sulfates. The larger molecule particles of these chemicals are not small enough to absorb into the skin. They can strip the scalp of its natural oils, however, which can leave your scalp and hair feeling dry. As said, this shampoo made my hair feel very dry, so that is something to be aware of. You will need to use a moisturizing conditioner after shampooing.
Nobody could describe this shampoo as gentle. That said, there aren’t many 5% coal tar solutions on the market. We haven’t reviewed one. It may be one of the only options that actually works for some. A real shame. I hope the company works on this formulation as there is clearly a real need for a 5% coal tar shampoo on the market right now.
As it stands, if you have a sensitive scalp, are allergic to any of the ingredients you will want to look elsewhere. We simply can’t recommend this shampoo. As a safer, gentler psoriasis coal tar shampoo, we can’t recommend DHS Tar Shampoo highly enough.
As well as being a licensed hair stylist, Lauren is a trained cosmetologist who understands the biology and anatomy of the scalp and of hair.
She understands the conditions that can cause dandruff and wants to help others achieve beautiful, healthy hair.